2.26 Methodology of Science

Category: Philosophy of Science

Keywords: scientist, methodology, sciences, science, scientific, scientists, method, methods, methodological, discovery, investigation, popper, progress, research, inquiry

Number of Articles: 576
Percentage of Total: 1.8%
Rank: 6th

Weighted Number of Articles: 616.8
Percentage of Total: 1.9%
Rank: 5th

Mean Publication Year: 1963.4
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1960.1
Median Publication Year: 1958
Modal Publication Year: 1948

Topic with Most Overlap: Marx (0.0391)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Theories and Realism (0.0586)
Topic with Least Overlap: Formal Epistemology (0.00051)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Belief Ascriptions (0.00041)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the methodology of sciencetopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1946 when 5.2% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 2010 when 0.6% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.26 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.66: Methodology of science.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Methodology of Sciencetopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.9%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 1.4%. Ethics - 1.1%. Philosophical Review - 1.8%. Analysis - 0.4%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.2%. Journal of Philosophy - 2.2%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 1.8%. Philosophy of Science - 6.2%. Noûs - 0.7%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 0.8%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 3.6%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1935 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 4.6% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 2010 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.5% of the articles.

Figure 2.67: Methodology of science articles in each journal.

Table 2.59: Characteristic articles of the methodology of science topic.
Table 2.60: Highly cited articles in the methodology of science topic.


A more accurate, if less pithy, name for this category would be midcentury general philosophy of science. It isn’t all midcentury; if one scrolls down the list of articles in the topic there are several from recent years. But there is something midcentury about the spirit of it; it’s philosophy of science that is very much not philosophy of one or other science in particular. And as that has gone out of fashion, this topic has declined.

The statistics for this topic were very surprising. The years make sense; midcentury philosophy peaks in the midcentury. But the numbers show how misleading the graphs can be. Eyeballing the graphs makes it look like this was just bubbling along, but the numbers say it is the fifth or sixth biggest topic of the ninety. The story here, I think, is that there was much less specialization in the 1950s and 1960s, and so individual topics get a chance to grow a lot.

And the topic overlaps were surprising enough to make me recheck the code. It isn’t completely surprising that philosophy of science would intersect somewhat with Marx. “Scientific socialism” was a thing, and plenty of philosophers of science had Marxist sympathies. And there is a lot of time sensitivity to these analyses, and Marx was a big topic at the same time that this topic was bit. But that it would be the highest overlap was a surprise. And it shows how much philosophy of science has changed that formal epistemology is literally the lowest overlap.